Monday 31 May 2010

The day that didn't happen!

Well it was back to Fetlar today, and it just goes to show what a difference a couple of days can make!
Best bird on Fetlar this morning was........... wait of it......................................A Chiffchaff............... you can stop laughing now!

The Phalaropes that performed so amicably a few days back, decided they had other things to do today, than perform for the visitors! We did find a Black-tailed Godwit and a Merlin too, but that was about it.

From there we hit the South, for a bit more birding, but enough of that for now...

Sunday 30 May 2010

Black and White.....and Red!

Me and my camera haven't been seeing eye to eye recently! I've been trying to photograph fast flying seabirds and Skuas, and my camera has been trying to take nice scenic photos of moorlands and sea!... (must try to sort out my autofocus settings, or is it my reaction times are slowing down?) and to top it all off my nose seems to keep changing the iso settings too! (now I do know I've got a big nose, but come on!)

Still, this Black Guillemot was happy to pose with it's arse firmly planted on a rock, in the 'very' bright morning light.

A female Brambling was the only migrant seen in Yell today, and even that spent the whole time trying to hide from me!

A Large White at Aywick today.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Something Special.

Today was time for something special. The first visit of the year to Fetlar, to look for the returning Phalaropes... and they didn't disappoint!

The idea seemed like a bad one, when at 7am the rain was lashing down and the wind was getting up, but I boarded the ferry from Yell to Fetlar anyway (I was having serious second thoughts...)

By the time we arrived, the sun was out, and the wind had all but gone, so down to the serious business of tracking down some of Fetlars good birds. Within minutes of arriving at Loch of Funzie (RSPB), the Phals were found right beside the road, and were performing to about 6 or 7 feet! In good sunshine, I couldn't fail to get good pics, and even managed to do a bit of sound recording too...

The sound clip is of a singing Skylark with a Black-tailed Godwit calling twice in the background.

Of course it wasn't just about Phalaropes. Fetlar also has some of the best numbers of other Shetland specialities too;

I also tried to photograph 'drumming' Snipe too... though not very well! (but you can get the idea though)

Migrants were also found today, and include; singing Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Whitethroat, and also singles of Whinchat and Swallow. There were 2 Common Terns in Burravoe in the late evening.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Bloody Migrants...

Tree Pipit was the best migrant bird in Burravoe today... Who am I kidding.... It was the ONLY BLOODY MIGRANT! (and even that was a quick view).

The wind is slowly changing to a more favorable direction though, so I'll be hoping for better things shortly! (I'm also hatching a cunning plan for a good days birding tomorrow, time will tell!!!)

On the plus side, the Arctic Terns are now on eggs, and the adults seem to be finding plenty of fish.... Fingers crossed for a decent breeding season!

'Scarecrow' watch update; There is now a record count of 51 Rock Doves in that field (that's about 20 more than the last record count!)...

If Carlsberg made scarecrows...

This was a recent local addition to the patch, and a welcome one at that!

Now since this 'scarecrow' has been in place, I've seen Linnet, Collared Dove and LBB Gulls, all in this field (all scarce birds in Burravoe area!).... and is that a Gull standing on it's head???

Although in all fairness, I haven't seen a crow anywhere near it!

I'm already constructing my own for the back garden....

Sunday 23 May 2010

Mountain Hare

An obliging Mountain Hare was the highlight of today...

Nice, but it just ain't a bird is it!

Friday 21 May 2010

Another one bites the dust...

The Plan; Fly to Fair Isle with Jase, for a day trip to see a White-throated Sparrow and a Rustic Bunting.

The Reality; Day trip by ferry, to Out Skerries after all flights were fogged out this morning...

Me and Jase decided to make the most of the situation today, and find our own birds on the Out Skerries. Only the birds had other ideas! and only a few Willow Warblers, a Siskin and a Common Sandpiper were found hanging around around on these wee islands.

The main interest was not till I arrived home, to receive a text telling me of a White-throated Sparrow down in the South Mainland that had been photographed today... This was a different bird to the Fair Isle bird due to it being a White striped bird, as opposed to the Tan striped individual at the obs on Fair Isle. Then the text came through that it had just been taken by the neighbours cat!

Harbour mouth of Skerries;
Some of the 'hot migrant' action today;

Thursday 20 May 2010

Sweet song...

Not much happening on patch today, with just a male Linnet singing his heart out, and a flyby Wood Pigeon to Show for all the effort!

Done the second of my Breeding Bird Surveys this morning. It was a bit foggy, but with a warmth in the air and no breeze, the birds were all singing, and most of the usual suspects were noted.

Friday will hopefully bring a few more rewards though, as a change of Island is planned for my birding tomorrow! (Fingers crossed)

This Wren got the award for 'grumpy' bird of the day

Wednesday 19 May 2010

On Tour...

A three day mega twitch to catch up with a few of the goodies that were still hanging around in Eastern England was hastily organised, and Jase and I were on our way South on the Northlink Ferry on a beautifully calm Saturday night.

The object of this mission was to bag the Oriental Pratincole that had taken up residence at an RSPB reserve in Linconshire. This involved a straight eight hour drive from Aberdeen, getting us to Frampton Marsh reserve in the early evening. Thankfully the bird was still there, though it was resting up on a wee island with the sun directly behind it! Not ideal viewing conditions... After a couple of hours wait, we gave up on waiting for the bird to do it's ariel acrobatics, and went looking for the other good birds present on the reserve before it got too dark. These involved Temmink's Stint and Wood Sandpipers as well as a few good birds we don't get very often up in Shetland. Then just before the sun went down the Pratincole was spotted flying and hawking insects over the back of the reserve. So after a fast charge back round the reserve to try and get a bit closer, and we enjoyed great views of this beautiful bird as it hunted right in front of us. Though with light fading and the bird so active these photos don't do it justice at all...

Then after dark we drove to Straws Bridge NR near Ilkeston (including a bit of boy racing in Boston on the way, much to the disgust of Jase!... I did win though!), This was for a dawn look for the Great Reed Warbler that had taken up territory in the smallest of reed beds, and been singing it's heart out for the last few days. So after a complete lack of sleep and a midnight visit from the 'rozza's' (at least they didn't want to strip search us this time, like the ones outside Sandringham wanted too...) we found the warbler performing beautifully in it's chosen patch of reeds. Two great birds in less than 24 hours and it was only going to get better...

Next target species was the Iberian Chiffchaff at Potteric Carr NR in Sth Yorkshire... This was duly found and sound recorded and photographed, but only after a long and confusing walk right round the reserve. Why did the bird have to stake a territory in the trees at the far end of the biggest reserve it could find? The sound recordings were always going to be a bit crap though, as the bird was singing next to the M18 motorway... but the photos weren't too bad though.

We weren't quite sure what to do next, as we had heard about a Purple Heron or two at a place near Spurn. but so far today there was no news... So a quick request to RBA produced a report that it was still in the ditches at Wellwick. Nothing else for it but to let Jase drive me all the way there while I got the first decent bit of sleep in days. After a bit of confusion as to the actual location of the bird, we found the ditch and found the flightiest bird I've ever seen. This was a beautiful looking bird, but it would flush at 100 yards range. Still I did manage a dodgy flight shot though, as a souvenir.

The next morning seen us heading back up North via Musselburgh for the Surf Scoters (2 Drakes) and the Ythan for the King Eider. The Eider was distant but not as distant as the Surf Scoters, so I did manage a fuzzy record shot!

Other birds photographed on the trip include;

and a female Eider in stealth mode...

A trip list of what I would call the best birds we seen include;

Oriental Pratincole

Iberian Chiffchaff

Purple Heron

Great Reed Warbler

Temmink's Stint

King Eider

Surf Scoter

Wood Sandpiper

Turtle Dove

Barn Owl


Little Gull


Tree Sparrow

Little Tern

Little Ringed Plover


Friday 14 May 2010

It went a bit wrong today...

Arranged for a day trip to the Out Skerries today with Jase, but due to the local Yell ferry running late, all plans had to change!

The day started off well at South Nesting, with a Merlin chasing a GBB Gull, now that's what I call plucky! (what would it have done if it caught it?)

Then a singing Chiffchaff at Scalloway made me think there had to be migrants around somewhere, but after a bird less trip to Lerwick and Kergord I was ready to be proved wrong...

And finally we decided to check Voe, where there was loads of birding action including;

Pied Flycatcher
3 Common Sandpipers (singing)
Siskin (c3+)
White & Pied Wagtails
Reed Bunting
and a very vocal 'singing' Redwing...

Also a few Whimbrel and Red-throated Divers for good measure.

Cutest bird of the day went to;

Wednesday 12 May 2010


but not many!

Well it didn't take me long to score my first migrants on my return to the local patch. Both Common Sandpiper and Mealy Redpoll made it worth while today.